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So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage doesn't live up to its name

Coconut milk is a delicious ingredient: it's thick and creamy, tastes distinctively of coconut, and is an essential base for a host of dishes, including but not limited to curries. It's also relatively expensive, usually ringing in at over $2 for a small (13.5 oz) can, which is fine for making a curry but not so great if you happen to like coconut a lot and happen to be into making smoothies or drinks with it. Though it hardly qualifies as "gourmet food," a nice post-workout protein drink, as a matter of fact, can be made by incorporating a little canned coconut milk (recipe below).

While its designation as a "coconut milk beverage" clearly indicates that the coconut milk drink produced by So Delicious isn't going to be great for curries, perhaps it will be good as a tropical base for healthy smoothies, but unfortunately, it is a let-down there. To be fair, the drink isn't great, but it's not terrible either. It feels like watery coconut milk, but surprisingly, it doesn't taste like coconut almost at all. If you are in need of a lactose-free alternative to milk and you're allergic to almonds to boot (almond milk is actually quite good!), then this product edges out rice milk rather clearly without the weird reputation of soy, so far as milk alternatives go, but it doesn't really taste like coconut.

This product is quite healthy, though. Coconut gets its fame lately as a health boon, despite being ridiculously high in fat, saturated fat at that, by containing an array of medium-chain fatty acids that appear to be a health benefit instead of a detriment (see link for reference). This product features them prominently. It also is vitamin-fortified and makes a good source of many nutrients, including Vitamin B-12 calcium, and thus it's not a bad milk replacement in your diet at a relatively affordable cost (about $3.50 per half gallon) if coconut fats are something you're interested in getting more of. Unlike actual coconut milk (from cans), this product is shockingly low in protein at about one-eighth the protein content of milk in equal-sized servings. It is, however, made with good-quality ingredients, "coconut cream" topping the list, though this Examiner is quite skeptical of that claim as coconut cream is properly defined as the really thick stuff that floats to the top of canned coconut milk if it's allowed to stand for a while. This beverage is not thick.

Coverage of this beverage is included because it is available in the specialty-foods aisle at Knoxville-area Kroger stores and thus may have a gourmet-quality reputation that it doesn't deserve. This drink is what it is: thin, a little slippery in texture, and, most importantly, not decidedly coconut-flavored. When used in a smoothie, the difference from having chosen milk is distinct and annoyingly noticeable without providing that kick of tropical coconut flavor that one would hope for in a coconut-milk beverage that lists coconut cream as the first ingredient (and only sugar and vitamins otherwise, somehow neglecting the obvious inclusion of more water than coconut).

To make a great post-workout smoothie that does taste like it has coconut in it, use the canned coconut milk using this recipe, which tastes something like German chocolate cake:

  1. 6 oz. (whole) milk;
  2. 4 oz. canned coconut milk (e.g. Goya or Taste of Thai brands), shaken well before opening;
  3. 25 g whey protein concentrate, unflavored (available at Knoxville-area supplement or health food shops or online);
  4. 1 heaping tbsp. evaporated cane juice (available in Knoxville-area Kroger stores in the baking aisle or at upscale grocers like The Fresh Market and Earth Fare for more money and the same product);
  5. 2-3 tbsp. (by taste) unsweetened cocoa powder (rec: Ghirardelli, available at Earth Fare and The Fresh Market in Knoxville).

Simply combine all of the ingredients in a shaker bottle or blender and mix well. If shaking by hand, expect to spend some time and effort doing it to ensure there are no lumps. For a thicker shake, replace half of the milk with (whole milk) yogurt, either vanilla flavored (if you have a sweet-tooth) or plain. One can of coconut milk will make three such drinks, and it is a great source of healthy fats, restorative calories, and protein (equivalent in protein content to whole milk) that put you back together after a workout with a slightly gourmet, homemade flair. Substituting the (not) So Delicious beverage featured in this article gives a poor result.

Please remember, as indicated throughout this article, to buy your ingredients locally whenever possible. Canned coconut milk is available in the Asian or Mexican sections of Knoxville-area grocers like Kroger, The Fresh Market, and Earth Fare, so it's easy to find. As for the So Delicious beverage, if you'd like to try it, you can find it in the specialty/healthy foods section in many local Kroger stores, but don't expect much out of it. Get the almond milk (same price, same display case) instead if you want a milk alternative (almond milk is even good in coffee!).

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Comments

  • Elizabeth Kelly: Knoxville Healthy Food Examiner 4 years ago

    Good to know! I always stock up on real coconut milk at Big Lots when they have it for a buck.

  • Jim Lindsay 4 years ago

    Yeah Liz, good call. I always seem to miss it there, though! I was really disappointed by this product, which I brought home with high hopes for. I definitely didn't expect the same product as is in the can (though the ingredient list was definitely deceptive), but I most definitely didn't expect an almost total absence of coconut flavor. My only guess on their motivation is that they were trying to make a *milk substitute* that tastes as much like milk as coconut milk can. Maybe there's a market for it, but not here. If it says coconut on it, I want to taste coconuts.

  • Valerie 4 years ago

    I couldn't disagree with your more. My son has autism and we have him on a gluten-free/casein-free diet. This is the first "milk" beverage he would actually drink. As we now keep a completely dairy-free household, our whole family has been enjoying the original and vanilla flavors not only as a drinkable beverage, but it our coffee, cereal, baking, and yes, even curries! I realize that everyone's taste buds are different, but I think it's sad that an article like this might keep someone else with an autistic child from trying this product.

  • Jim Lindsay 4 years ago

    That's a good point, Valerie, and perhaps with proper motivation it would make a nice beverage as a milk substitute. Still, why use it for curries? For that purpose, it is definitely inferior to the canned stuff (or homemade coconut milk, for that matter, which isn't actually that hard to make).

    Perhaps your son doesn't like or tolerate almond milk as a milk substitute (which is also free of casein and gluten), but I find that to be a far more palatable product than this coconut beverage.

    Still, to each his own, and so I'm glad you and yours enjoy this. Hopefully enough people will see your comment and this one to be willing to try it, but I stand by my review.

  • Gail Davis (for Turtle Mountain) 4 years ago

    Thank you for taking the time to review our product, Jim. We created our coconut milk beverages to address the dietary needs of people with varying food sensitivities, including those with dairy, gluten, and soy intolerances. In seeking to create a delicious drinkable milk alternative that would appeal to a broad range of palates, we tried to balance the
    level of coconut flavor in our beverages. We are extremely encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive feedback we have received from our customers in regard to our coconut milk beverages. But we also appreciate feedback such as yours and take it into serious consideration as we continue to strive to meet the wants, needs, and expectations of our customers.

  • Jim Lindsay 4 years ago

    Gail, I appreciate your comment, and I want to stress that I don't think this product is a failure or even bad... it's just not what I was looking for. I definitely agree that if I had food allergies or sensitivities and had to taste a strong coconut taste every time I wanted a bowl of Raisin Bran, I'd be a little irritated. I picked this product up hoping for a nice, clean coconut flavor, however, and was a bit disappointed.

    To review it as an alternative to milk, it is, in my opinion, superior to soy milk and rice milk and inferior to almond milk, coming off about like 1% with just a hint of coconut in the background and, as mentioned, a vaguely slippery texture. I can easily drink a glass of this without blinking, though, and don't mean to dissuade people from choosing it as a milk alternative. It's not, however, a coconut milk alternative or a beverage for anyone hoping to find a nice, smooth coconut flavor in it.

  • Ert 4 years ago

    Finally, someone calls this product what it is ...... trash.

    I tried the unsweetened Coconut Beverage. I so much wanted to like this, but was so disappointed by the total and utter lack of flavor. The only taste I received to my palate was a rather faint bleach taste. I can only wonder why anyone would consume this.

    Nice idea, poor execution. There's no substitute for the real thing. Make your own or just eat more real coconut.

    There seems to be many people looking for milk substitutes. There is NO substitute for milk. Milk is a WHOLE FOOD. These man made concoctions from soy, hemp, grains, coconut, etc. are not real foods.... and adding vitamins and minerals to them does not make them any better for you. These are essentially "white breads".

    I can see the appeal to many though, as the sweetened drinks can be made palatable for many who like sweet things, and America loves their sweets.

    For those that think this stuff is good, try the unsweetened to get the REAL taste

  • Luke 4 years ago

    I have to admit, that I've been buying this product for about six months (I think). I can't drink dairy and was pleased to find this new addition. What is frustrating for me, is that the product is quite expensive. I pay at least $4.65 for a half gallon, and that goes fast. Considering the product is watered down, that's a bit overpriced when you realize that you're paying about $10 for a gallon. Not to mention how frustrating it is to have to buy multiple containers just to keep it in stock. A gallon size would be more sensible.

    I like the taste. No, it doesn't really taste like coconut, but it's a great alternative for milk. I've used it in cooking, cereals, and by the glass with no problems. I would imagine that the company has scared off a lot of potential buyers with the cost though. It's something they should think about.

  • Anitra 4 years ago

    I have to tell yo this milk is a blessing for me. I do not like almond milk which taste like water to me and is also thin and water base. I cannot drink soy milk because of allergies.And rice milk was kinda the same to me as the almond milk just a little better. So my top choice is this new Coconut milk I have tried the vanilla and the regular and both replace dairy very well for me. I am about 70% to 80% Raw Foodie so maybe it just might be the taste buds I have compared to the protein powered drinkers but it taste totally terrific for me. FYI I became allergic to soy and whey proteins after three years of being a protein powder drinker. So please everyone who mixes these product be aware! It really is not fun when you kill your enzymes from powered proteins!

  • Ned 3 years ago

    Ert's comments are irrelevant. Perhaps he/she is someone who profits from the dairy industry.
    Quote (Ert):
    "There seems to be many people looking for milk substitutes."

    Doesn't this person think that maybe there is a very good reason for this? This seems to be a person who simply enjoys spewing pointless nonsense and harassing others for their food choices. What is so foolish about those comments is that some people cannot ingest dairy products without extremely negative effects, so they need alternatives that offer a similar nutritional balance. These alternative products are not artificial foods just because they don't come from a cow. One is made from nutritious plants, the other comes from animals. Both are "real" foods. I have not tried this coconut milk, but if the price were more reasonable, I certainly would and would not be dissuaded by what I've read here. I love coconut, however I want my milk replacements to have a creamy, neutral flavor without any strong flavors, so this sounds like a good one for me to try. Everyone has different tastes and opinions, so people need to stop expressing their opinions as if they are pure fact. What one person dislikes, another will love.

  • Ned 3 years ago

    Anitra, I don't know which almond milk you have tried, but not all of them are thin and watery. In fact, the one I drink is so thick and rich that it's almost excessively so, but it's still delicious and I love it. So, what you say is not true of of all almond milk. Please don't make generalizations based on a particular product. You obviously have not tried them all. They vary considerably.

    By the way, I was not referring to the writer of this review regarding my comment above about expressing opinions as if they are pure fact. I was referring to Ert's post. I thought the original review was fair and informative.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    what a bunch of idiots you all are...let me know what city you live in so i can be sure to not ever come there!! you all need a life...an enema and some brain food...yuck what a bunch of narrow minded jerks you are. stop wasting space with your stupidity and do something useful!

  • Profile picture of Sarah Morrow
    Sarah Morrow 2 years ago

    I've bought So Delicious coconut milk "beverage" twice. The first time, it was the sweetened kind. It was terrible. I threw most of it away. Today I bought the unsweetened kind, thinking it might be better. It wasn't. As others have said, it doesn't even taste like coconut. I wouldn't know what I was drinking if not for the label. It has a bland, unpleasant, watery, taste and texture. I'm appalled that a company cold take something made of such good ingredients, and turn it into such a horrible product.

    Coconut has health benefits, but I doubt that this product has any. I would suspect it's made from what's left after everything of any possible nutritional value or flavor has been squeezed out of the pulp. "So Delicious" needs to get their act together. If their other products are this unpleasant, it's a wonder they're still in business.

  • Steven-L 2 years ago

    I developed an aquired type of food allergy to whey, the food allergy type of eosiniphilic esophagitis, (there is also gerd eosiniphilic esophagitis). I've been using the canned coconut milk for puddings and pies. I have been happy to have so many new of the half gallon non milk beverage products to try lately as well. I have tried rice milk initially, it is grainy. I was surprised that a commentor aboved prefered it to almond milk. I have also tried so delicious coconut milk, silk's almond milk, and blue diamond's almond milk and their coconut/almondmilk mixed beverage product. I prefer either of the two almond milk products that I have listed above any other style of milk beverage products that I have tasted. I haven't yet tried other companies products. I do however still buy so delicious's coconut milk product and blue diamond's mixed coconut/almond milk product in addition to the almond milk products just to have a variety of tastes. The mixed product I haven't tried enough of to be sure of my thoughts. One final offtopic comment. I really like turtle mountain's so delicious coconut milk ice cream above all other brands and types of non dairy icecreams that I have tried.

  • John 1 year ago

    I bought the so delicious original coconut milk product thinking it would taste like coconut but boy was I wrong, it didn't taste like anything, it was just horrible in flavor. It tasted like watered down milk, if you think it is healthy for you then you are just wasting your money, sure it is low in calories but there is no nutritional benefits from this product. I feel that the so delicious company should rethink their product and improve the recipe, perhaps by actually making it taste like coconut for one, maybe having it be a little thicker and creamier and also by adding some nutrients such as omega 3, iron, calcium, protein, vitamin D, etc.., by doing this their sales would improve exponentially, but for now my vote is a NO on buying this product again.

  • Anonymous 12 months ago

    I recently bought So Delicious as well. I'm allergic to milk and wanted to find a milk alternative. I first tried Almond milk, but started feeling sick so I looked up coconut milk and decided on So Delicious. I use milk mostly for cereal. I decided to have cereal this morning so I fixed a small bowl and proudly drank the remaining milk and once again didn't taste any coconut.. Researching this brand I wanted to make I wasn't only one who was missing the coconut taste. To be honest I actually smelled the milk and didn't smell coconut either.

  • Joseph 3 months ago

    Yeah I've tried this brand as a drink too and it didn't taste right to me either. I'm not a vegan nor do I have any allergies or intolerances to cow's milk but when making things for pot lucks I usually try to satisfy as many different dietary choices/requirements I can (vegan is one I always try to satisfy, along with nut-free, soy-free, and gluten-free).

    I've tried drinking this by itself and as I said it did taste kind of odd. A supermarket in my area sells a store-brand version of vanilla almond milk that I've tried and find to be quite delicious. So if I ever did want to experiment with a vegan lifestyle what I'd likely do is keep the SoDelicious milk beverage around for use in recipes (for example when I use it in an ice cream base recipe calling for 3 cups of coconut milk, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tbsp of vanilla extract, and 1/2 tsp. salt and run this base through my ice cream maker, it makes a delicious vanilla sorbet and I just found a recipe online for a creamy Thai tomato soup that this brand might work well in) but for drinking purposes I'd probably go with the supermarket's store-brand vanilla almond milk

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